I recently received valuable advice from a woman who has decades of experience as a wife and a mother. She said, “in a moment of conflict with your spouse, try to pause and ask yourself:
‘Is this a [his name] issue or is this a man issue?’”
This question creates space to honor the nature and dignity of the other person as well as their biological design as rooted in their sex. A foundational understanding of the differences between the minds, hearts, and souls of men and women can help us see, know, and love others both in moments of intimacy and discord.
In the heat of an argument, it can be easy to become defensive and shame your spouse with exasperated claims of, “you just don’t get it!” Perhaps this is the complete truth--he doesn’t understand the situation the way you do. This may be the result of the differences between men and women. Yet, this is not an appropriate time to shame or blame the other for the natural differences between sexes.
From the creation story, we know Adam was created from the external world and breath of God while Eve was created from the internal rib of man. This physical origin yields to a spiritual reality in every man and woman. In brief, “man’s orientation towards life tends to be outward, while woman’s orientation towards life tends to be inward.”
I consider a mother and father in the home as a primary example of this dynamic. A father’s priority is to create a safe, stable environment for his family to live. A mother’s priority is to feed, nurture and care for her family to find rest. Both are working towards establishing a “safe home” but the means to each specific end is very different. Together, their combined efforts can create a powerful synergy.
However, conflict may arise when the father wants the mother to share his ambition and urgency for his agenda (or vice-versa). From her perspective, the mother is less concerned with the physical condition of their house until her children have joy and peace in their home. She may not agree with his priority, or may leave him to complete the tasks on his own. He is left feeling isolated and abandoned in his own inherent value.
This example is not an conflict of the specific persons; rather, this is a disconnect between the providentially inspired, yet differing, instincts of man and woman.
Inserting the question, “is this a [his name] issue or a man issue?” allows spouses to see God’s design in the other. Even more, as we see and understand God’s design, we recognize how he created a complementary union within the marital embrace.
We were created for perfection. We were created for perfect unity. This perfect unity is a promise of heaven, and we will experience the union between self and God, body and soul, man and woman, as well as self and all creation. Before the fall, “the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
As we live on Earth in preparation for heaven, we strive to eliminate shame by educating ourselves on what it means for man and woman to be made in the image of God so we may fulfill our destiny for perfection in eternity.